Malmoos and War of Athena make South African horse racing history
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CAPE TOWN - South African racing history was made at Turffontein Standside yesterday when the WSB SA Triple Crown and Wilgerbosdrift SA Triple Tiara were landed on the same day and the pair that did it, the Mike de Kock-trained Malmoos and the Paul Matchett-trained War Of Athena.
The pair won their respective 2450m events so comfortably they look capable of going on to even greater things.
Earlier, the Joe Soma-trained Equus Champion three-year-old from last year Got The Greenlight won the Grade 1 weight-for-age HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m and the runner up, the Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Copper Mountain, was further proof of just how strong this year's three-year-old male crop are.
The day might also have put Muzi Yeni and Luke Ferraris on top of the pile for sort after big race riders in South Africa as their respective partnerships with War Of Athena and Malmoos have highlighted their cool, calm and collected professionalism.
Between them they have won five Grade 1s this season. Ferraris has now won the Sun Met and become part of WSB SA Triple Crown folklore in the same year he completed his apprenticeship.
Malmoos showed his usual good gatespeed and was caught two wide as they approached the first turn. He began tugging a bit but Ferraris did not panic and rounding the turn he was fortuitously able to slot in thanks to Second Base moving inward to take a gap that had opened on the rail. Malmoos was now in the perfect position one wide and three back and relaxed beautifully behind no more than a steady pace set by Validus.
Second Base burst through the centre in the straight, as he had done in the SA Classic. However, Malmoos, with a R2 million WSB SA Triple Crown bonus at stake, did not allow Second Base any glimmer of hope this time. After he had moved up with authority, Ferraris got to work on him at the 400m mark and the margin between himself and the rest was 5,25 lengths by the time he had hit the finishing line.
The progressive Listed Derby Trial winner Pamushana's Pride, whose is rated only 91, pipped Second Base for second. Shah Akbar enjoyed hold up tactics as opposed to his usual front-running style and finished fourth ahead of Bingwa.
Malmoos, a Captain Al colt bred by Varsfontein, is the fourth WSB SA Triple Crown winner following the De Kock-trained Horse Chestnut in 1999, the Geoff Woodruff-trained Louis The King in 2014 and the Mike Azzie-trained Abashiri in 2016.
Malmoos is the only one of the quartet to have run in both of the joint-first legs of this series, finishing unplaced in the Grade 1 Cape Guineas before later winning the Grade 2 WSB Gauteng Guineas.
Malmoos also recorded the slowest time of the quartet, 4.27 seconds slower than the immortal Horse Chestnut's time, although it was no fault of his own.
Hollywoodbets are of the view that Malmoos' defeat in the Cape Guineas was all wrong or that he has improved since and promoted him to joint-Vodacom Durban July favourite together with Got The Greenlight at 5/1. This is at at least half the odds of any of the six horses who beat him in the Cape Guineas and they have him 7.5 points clear of the Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby winner Linebacker.
Malmoos' connections paid tribute to owner Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum whose recent passing was a big blow to an industry he has supported prolifically for decades throughout the world.
War Of Athena was caught wide for a while in the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks behind a furious pace set by the Paul Peter pair Lotus and Sacred Lotus. However, Astral Plane on her inside was able to slot in on to the rail towards the end of the back straight and this enabled War Of Athena to slot in to a one wide position with cover.
In the straight the small Summerhill Stud-bred Act Of War filly cantered through the pack and had no problem finding extra when challenged by Sparkling Water. Yeni did not use the stick once and after looking over his shoulders for dangers he began shaking his fist with triumph more than 50 metres from home. She had toyed with them and still won by two lengths to become the fourth SA Wilgerbosdrift SA Triple Tiara winner.
Hollywoodbets make her a 10/1 shot for the VDJ.
Owners Roy Wentzel and his wife Dr Rose Waterman-Wentzel stated before Saturday's race she is not for sale despite selecting and purchasing her for a paltry R30,000 at BSA Emperor's Palace Ready To Run Sale. She earned a R1 million bonus for landing the Wilgerbosdrift SA Triple Tiara.
Got The Greenlight sat near the back of the HF Oppenheimer field but sliced through them under the hands to hit the front a full 500m mark. He was able to find extra under the whip when Copper Mountain moved up to challenge in the closing stages and the Nadeson Park Stud-bred Gimmethegreenlight colt prevailed by half-a-length. Tierra Del Fuego was the same distance of three lengths behind the winner as he was last year, but this time in third and not fourth, and Cirillo made it respective second, third and fourth place finishes in this race. Ikigai was fifth.
Got The Greenlight's devastating turn of foot makes him ieally suited to tight tracks and he is a worthy VDJ joint-favourite. However, Hollywoodbets are going against history as only Cape horses have won the July in the seven runnings to date on the narrowed track.
Soma and S'Manga Khumalo later combined to easily win the Grade 3 Caradoc Gold Cup over 2850m with African Adventure. The further the better for this Master Of My Fate gelding.
The Grade 3 Man O' War Sprint over 1000m was won equally easily by the Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained What A Winter filly Celestial Love.